[White Paper] Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Food Packaging Second Alternatives Assessment

By Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program
WA State Department of Ecology
June 13, 2022

This is the second Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) alternatives assessment (AA) of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in plant-fiber-based food packaging. This AA is pursuant to the requirements of RCW 70A.222.070, 4 which restricts the manufacture, distribution, and sale in Washington of “food packaging to which PFAS chemicals have been intentionally added in any amount.” PFAS are intentionally added to some paper food packaging products to provide oil and grease resistance, water repellency, and leak resistance. The restriction timeline depends on when we identify safer alternatives to PFAS in food

As RCW 70A.222.070(2) requires, Ecology, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Health (collectively, “we”), designed an AA process to identify safer alternatives. This AA:

  • Evaluates less toxic chemicals and nonchemical alternatives to replace the use of PFAS. in food packaging.
  • Follows the guidelines for alternatives assessments issued by the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2).
  • Includes, at a minimum, an evaluation of chemical hazards, exposure, performance, cost, and availability.

This process considers alternatives to PFAS in food packaging that are “intended for direct food contact and are comprised, in substantial part, of paper, paperboard, or other materials originally derived from plant fibers” (RCW 70A.222.0105). Safer alternatives meet improved hazard and exposure considerations and can be practicably and economically substituted for PFAS.

We published our first AA using this process in February 2021 (Ecology, 2021). In it, we reviewed alternatives to PFAS in food packaging used to hold and serve freshly prepared food. We identified alternatives that met the criteria for a safer alternative for the following food packaging applications:

  • Wraps & liners.
  • Plates.
  • Food boats.
  • Pizza boxes.

This second AA evaluates five food packaging applications:

  • Bags & sleeves.
  • Bowls
  • Flat serviceware (which includes products like plates and trays).
  • Open-top containers.
  • Closed containers.

We chose these food packaging applications by looking at food packaging used to hold and serve freshly prepared food, specifically where we did not identify safer alternatives in the first AA. The Introduction includes more details on how we chose these applications and their definitions. We identified safer alternatives for all five of the food packaging applications assessed in this AA.


View full report here